Time questions concept as a group of floating clocks and timepieces shaped as a question mark as a metaphor for deadline or business schedule confusion or corporate appointment information as a 3D illustration.

The Best Sellers Are Cheaters0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

You can slice it six ways from Sunday, the best sales people are the ones who maximize and do most with their time. Success in sales is all about Execution – everything else being just talk, and given that all of us are allocated 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, what and how one choses to execute becomes a critical difference. Execution takes time, a non-renewable resource, finding ways to stretch and bend that time in your favour is critical; and doing that will usually involve cheating. Not cheating like when a company cheats a rep out commissions, or by deceit, but cheat as in:

“to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting – “cheat death” (Merriam-Webster)
I would suggest the sales equivalent being time – “cheat time”

To begin with, top sellers spend much less time talking, and a great deal more time executing. That does not mean that they get everything right, but since they spend more time doing than, thinking, planning or talking, they are bound to get more things right. More importantly, they will have more mistakes to review and learn from. A big unspoken consequence to waiting for perfection before taking action is you are not making enough mistakes to learn from, and as the end of the month quarter or year draws near, we revert back to doing things they way we always have, the same way that leads to almost half of B2B reps missing quota.

In order to ensure that our clients get maximum bang for their training dollars, we put a great deal of focus and effort on adoption, changing people’s habits. No matter how great a sales methodology you introduce, if you don’t change the habits of the team you are working with, you will not change the way they sell. The book of the last trainer is clearly on display on the shelf of each rep, just absent from the way they execute, because their habits remain the same, they are just applied using a different story.

In this process, we work closely with teams over time, and have come to see specific things recur time and time again across different teams. One being how they value and deal with time, not just their own, but that of the buyer.

Time Question Concept

Using our Activity Calculator, each rep calculates approximately what percentage of their time they have to allocate to high value activities across a period of time, ideally a sales cycle, or if we have to a week or month. (I really prefer sales cycle, but many sales people don’t know how long their sales cycle is, their default answer is “Depends”) Once a rep makes a commitment to how much time they will allocate to critical sales activities, the challenge is to stick to it.

The best sellers cheat time by ensuring that they complete the most important high value activities. Their view is that the most important thing is attaining quota, so they cheat by ensuring those things that drive quota get done before and above all other things. The less successful sellers, cheat themselves by doing everything but what drives their quota. They find it more important to do things their customer support or product people can and are paid to do, eating up valuable time, eating away at their ability to win.

I understand the need to be customer focused, which is exactly why your company hired support teams better equipped to do that than you; they hired you to sell. So stop cheating yourself and your customer, yes, by stepping between them and the right resource you not only risk resolution, but risk losing customers as a result.

So if you’re gonna cheat, do it in a way that helps your customers, company, and you; go out and sell, don’t waste time on things that don’t lead to revenue.

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Win lose draw dice

Let’s Make A Decision!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We’ve all been there, a real-life version of the popular game show. You’ve done your work, and have arrived at that final fateful stage of the sales.

Three possibilities, three doors:

  1. A positive Decision
  2. A negative Decision
  3. No Decision

While it is clear which door the individual sales person want, the question is how to get that. Much of that will depend on the state of the buyer and their organization at the time of decision. Broadly speaking three sates: 1) Actively looking, those people out there consuming all the content you dangle in front of them as they willingly march down their buying journey. You know all about these folks, 57% of the way… blah blah blah. They know what they want, why, and they are geared to get it. 2) Passively looking, they know they have to make a purchase, but they are not driven by the same urgency as their Active cousins. The things these two groups have in common include that they know they have to make a purchase, one now, the other sometime in the next 12 to 18 months. The other, is that they are both at the point of choosing the product, and will most likely end up with doors number 1 or 2. The other thing to consider is that these two groups make up less than 30% of the over target market.

But if you are only selling to this small group of buyers, an informed and opinionated set of buyers, you are most likely facing a decision based on price, features, or both. The good thing is that while you may not like the decision, at least you’ll get one.

What about the remaining 70%, the Status Quo, the complacent, set in their way, completely oblivious and removed from the market? Unlike Active or passive buyers, these people are not even thinking of playing, never mind deciding. Which is one of the key factors behind the high and rising number of deals that end up behind door number 3, no decision! According to sources some 30% of opportunities going into the top of your funnel will end in no decision. Take out the Active and Passive folks, who will make a decision, even when not in our favour, this means about half of deals initiated with Status Quo buyers go nowhere. Not the best use of time or resources.

While there a host of reason for this, but I think the key is what we are selling these folks. Because most sellers are practiced at selling to Folks who have made the decision to act, and are now down to selecting a product. Status Quo people are much further back down the road, they need to be convinced that a change is necessary. When we are successful at doing that, then they enter the product, or if you like, the solution, selection phase. The reason half don’t make a product decision is we were not successful at showing them why they need to leave the safety and warmth of their current means of doing things. Without that, they don’t need to decide on a product, feature, price or any of the common features of a buyer initiated and driven sale. Active and Passive buyers do most of the lifting, they just need someone to place an order with once they made up their mind.

Win lose draw diceSuccess with getting Status Quo buyers rests in being able to engage them on how they do things now, how that aligns with or detracts from their objectives. If we fail to get them to understand that there is another way to achieve those objectives, there is no need for a product decision.

Forget what makes you successful in winning what’s behind doors number 1 & 2, to win what’s behind door number 3, you need to create a reason for them to have to decide, this is about everything but the product. Active and Passive buyers have made the decision to decide on their own, leaving the sellers who service them no opportunity to exercise by sales people who are only selling to these buyers. Frankly a challenge for many inbound types, and others.

Adding to the challenge is that as soon as we go “product” with these buyers, they turn off, for them that is putting the cart way, way ahead of the horse. Your options need to look to their internal processes, and how those are enabling or preventing them from achieving current objectives, or objectives you can get them to adopt. The half of Status Quo buyers who choose not to make a decision, are not rejecting your product, but your inability to persuade based on anything other than product.

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deadline

Deadlines Drive Deals0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

People generally have one of two relationships with deadlines, they either love them, and use them to be more productive. Or they hate them, ignore them, avoid them, or are terrified by them. The former is usually the more productive group. While productivity is normally defined as more units of output with the same or less units of input, the only thing we’ll mess with or alter in this post, is we will look at the units of input as being time.

I have spoken about time in the past, time being the only non-renewable resource we have in sales, squeezing more out of each second, leads to more sales success. The other things I have spoken a lot about here is the importance of next steps, real next steps, not wishful planning. Think of these two critical elements as the two lines you want to paint your sales between.

While there are the obvious deadlines that sellers deal with, month, quarter or year ends. I think it is important that sellers set more immediate and shorter deadlines. Many will worry about the whole sale, which often prevents them doing all the things or key things that need to today, now (as soon as you’ve read this). Break down your sales to specific points that have to be accomplished along the way, things without which there will be no sale, not big things, but things that have to be in place.

This is where next steps are key. They allow you to break down big steps, into much more bite sized, read doable steps, without the distraction of what’s looming beyond the next step, because let’s be real, if you don’t achieve this immediate next step, there ain’t no sale beyond. While there should always be an overarching strategy and plan for the opportunity/account, there should also be one for each step along the way. Most sales people find it easier to articulate their big plan, but find it difficult to articulate what HAS to be done next, and how the will actually do to make that happen.

deadlineDeadlines force you to focus. Setting deadlines for small incremental steps, lead to not only an action plan, but an execution plan; and we all know that success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk, and in the absence of action, there is always a lot of talk. The ticking of a clock does amazing job of either turning talk in to action, or missing the deadline when time rolls over you.

Once you master self-imposed deadlines, you will see that they not only are effective for the driving success in individual sales meetings, but you’ll begin to actually set deadlines within meetings. If you know you need to have three things in place with a prospect for them to agree on your next step, and you have a 60-minute meeting scheduled, set deadlines for that within the meeting. You’ll find that this will help you focus on only those things that drive that point, and usually makes your prospect much more engaged because you are focused forward looking, and forward moving.

Deadlines drown out distractions. It is amazing the clarity of thought many experience when they set specific timeline and deadlines. While deadlines imposed by others are not always pleasant, self-imposed deadlines, will make you more productive in the way outlined at the top of this post.

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pier

Are your prospecting calls a long run off a short pier?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sellers are a wonderfully optimistic lot, having drank the Kool Aid about their “solution”, believing that they are indeed the cavalry coming over the hill to heal all that pains their potential prospects. This unbridled optimism and energy works great when you have a willing audience, say a play, where the audience comes with interest and openness to the message. That however is not the reality of a prospecting call, or dare I say, cold call; enthusiasm is not enough, in fact can be your undoing.

In no way do I want to douse your enthusiasm, but I do want to infuse a bit of reality into how prospecting unfolds these days. While I use calls to demonstrate the points, the basics hold true for e-mails, or other forms of “disruptive selling”. You can dress it up any way you like, but if your call or e-mail or other method of approach is not scheduled, and is news to the recipient, then we are disrupting that buyer. Nothing wrong with that, you are practicing Disruptive Marketing; if they taught Sales 2.0 or 3.0 were cool, Disruptive Marketing is just plain Arctic. Take pride in what you do, change the title on your card to read “Professional Interrupter”.

If you are going to interrupt someone, make it count, make every second of the call count, especially the first few. Even in an e-mail, if your subject line sucks, and your opening line is subpar, you’re beat from the start, as the prospect will never take in the real reason you called or they should speak with you. Those first few seconds are crucial, which is why I don’t understand why some many seller, so many professional interrupters, squander those important seconds.

Time after time I hear sales people talk about the most irrelevant things when the prospect unsuspectingly answers the phone. Rather than dealing with and delivering to the most important thing the prospect wants to know, i.e. “What’s In It For Me?” They ramble on about stuff not even their wives care about.

Caller: “Hi my name is Harvey Brown, I am the mid-Atlantic Account Executive for Blah Blah Inc., a Fortune 500 company and award winning manufacture of Machines Learning Widgets”. Frankly who really cares, Mom?

From the prospects’ perspective, you are almost at the end of the pier, and you haven’t even turned the corner of saying anything of interest to the prospect. With this approach, by the time you get to anything they may be able to evaluate and base a meeting on, the prospect has certainly checked out mentally if not hung up. In the case of e-mail, you can bet your last dollar that they have deleted your e-mail by now and have moved on.

What’s in it for them is not who you are, what you do, who you sell for, or what you sell. What’s in it for them are the outcomes and impacts on their business. So, start your call with that.

pier

Start with the very end, and then use your sales meeting to work back to why your product. Lead with the impacts on their business, what it will look like after they buy from you, don’t focus on what they are buying from you. If they don’t see the “how things will be different (better), then they could care less about what you sell. To do this you need to inject it into the call early, and not waste time giving long rambling demographical data that will make you run out of pier long before you can deliver the impact.

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Sitting

Don’t Just Do Something – Sit There!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

All too many people confuse activity or action with productivity or results. Think of how many times the best thing you can say about a movie or a game is that it was “action filled”. In sales, many often confuse activity with moving the sale forward or execution, bringing to mind the saying about the deck chairs on the Titanic. And while action is at times better than no action at all, it is not always the case. The difference would be in the intent and purpose.

Execution should be the tactical manifestation of a strategy, or more accurately strategies. An overall corporate sales strategy, territory and account strategies, and then a strategy for every encounter with a laser focus on logical next steps. Execution is not, or should not be, a means of formulating your strategy by trial and error. It is often those sales leaders who rely on the trial and error method that complain that their sales cycles are too long, and are looking for a way to shorten the cycle. Well, start by not doing unthought-out things that don’t directly support your goal, and more importantly that of the buyer.

Now don’t get me wrong, more often than not, it is good to put (new) skills into practice or action. This way we can review and adjust, and bring improvement over time. The key is the action being taken is in context of specific goals, one supported by a strategy (or at minimum a plan), and the execution is driven by a clear process.

Now before your roll your eyes – Anderson Style, like many do at the mention of process, consider how a dynamic process can make selling, if not easier, more straight forward. The challenge is that most confuse process with a series of predesigned steps.

While there may be a logical path or sequence in well thought-out sales processes, it is not the end all and be all, but a start. A process should allow you to best engage your buyer around their objectives, leading to the business impacts they were looking for, or more when they deal with a good sales person.

A good sales process is one that evolves with your market, one that is dynamic and reflects the market, rather than a static process that expects the market to bend to your view, which it usually does not.

As such, a key feature of a process, is not in telling you exactly what to do in each circumstance. This leaves one exposed when circumstances change, which is daily, or when we encounter circumstances our process, and the folks who designed it, did not take into account.

SittingThe best processes are those that encourage people to think about the specific situation they are facing. The means and steps with which to evaluate, and then respond or act, rather than many of the processes that send people off to do something and then try to figure out why things went wrong, after the fact.

The best sales processes are those that encourage you to stop, step back, evaluate, come up with a course of action based on the here and now, and then act. Ones that allow you to not do something for the sake of doing something, and instead execute those actions that drive value for the buyer, and move the process forward. It’s OK not to do something, and sit back and think instead.

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Time To Change The Sales Rhetoric0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

You know it’s getting bad when the pundits are spending more time picking at each other, than dispensing advice to the masses who clearly yearn for knowledge and means to achieve quota.

Pundits are no different than other vendors or providers, they want to sell their services, I know I do, to that they need to find an audience, that’s what I am doing right here. Knowing that the old saying that one can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, they tend to spread the honey liberally in the hope of catch an audience. (You know I much preferred the other way of expressing the above, namely, “where there is horse shit, there will be sparrows”).

My concern stems from the number of pieces delivered by pundits that are not about how their followers can change elements of their approach or execution to improve their sales and outcomes, but instead waste time and space knocking some other method of selling or point of view. Given that there are few if any black and white or definitive things in sales, I don’t see how anyone can truly believe that they have the secret, the only way to achieve a specific task or an entire means of consistently and continuously succeeding in every sale they are involved in. Sure, it makes for a good cover, but don’t be sucked in to believing that any single sales approach will prove to be the only one you’ll ever need.

But you suspect that the cupboard is bare when more is thrown at other schools of thought than at the challenge at hand, elevating the state of sales. At one point, it becomes more amusing than bothersome, and if you do have a balanced view on how to continuously expand your toolkit and improve your sales, it can be somewhat amusing.

leader

For example, if you are missing Samuel Beckett or Sartre, just sit back, read and absorb the absurdity of someone passionately litigating the uselessness of social selling, yet doing it all on social media. Or the alternative of a pundit who continues to tell me why cold calling is dead, and I need to adopt a more social approach, all in an unsolicited e-mail, addressed to a generic address they scraped from my website. Although both were more entertaining than the blog post (although it felt like a dissertation when reading), about “personas”, which if I had to give the Reader’s Digest Version, simply amounted to titles being substituted for Persona.

I know people get passionate about things they feel strongly about, but that does not make that view right, unique or absolute. I also understand that despite all the moving parts, good selling comes down to some core concepts, these core concepts don’t multiple or dramatically change over time, how you execute will, but the reasoning has been fairly steady since Eve, the Apple and poor Adam. So, I understand that after a while we may run out of new ideas, but that’s alright there is no need to panic.

I see part of my role as helping reinforce the core elements of execution, the fundamentals. No shame in that, in fact it should be more prevalent in pundit world. So rather than panicking that you may have run out of ideas, and turning to the dark side: “Hey I think I need to poo poo on other’s ideas, and proclaim to have the only game in town”, feel comfortable with your view, the advice that got you this far, and help those interested, in improving their game. Shitting on others may get you points with the malcontents of sales, but these same sellers may not be around to read your next piece, and boy will you be even more pissed then.

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stranger in their own deal

A Stranger In Your Own Deal?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

It’s interesting to see how different sales people and organisations deal with lost deals. In light of the fact that most sales people including me, have an initial engagement to close ratio of less than 50%, meaning we lose more than we win, you’d think there would be more of a focus on understanding the reason for the outcomes of our opportunities. A better understand of why things turned out as they did, more importantly, how to change things to change the outcome moving forward should be of interest to sales types.

Even among those who do have a formal review process, they at times are limited by their scope and process.

A proper review of a loss is not easy, and may in fact be bruising to the rep involved. Which is one reason, I believe, that the rep involved in a lost deal should not be part of the process for loss review, at least not in parts involving the prospect in question. This is not some form of punishment, it is to ensure you get the best feedback for driving change.

Almost always, when you send the rep in to find out why they lost, you get no usable feedback. First off, the prospect, having made their choice has now shifted to implementing what they just bought (from the other guy). The easiest thing is to tell the rep it was price and product related differences. The reps have egos to protect, so what better than having the convenience of having price and product to blame. “See, it’s just as I and the rest of the team have been telling you….”

You really want this guy walking around the sales floor looking good for loosing?

stranger in their own dealIf you are looking for loss reviews to have real meaning and bring change, not only should you have someone else do it, but have a plan and specific areas that you will probe. Depending on the size of your deals and company, your best option is to go with a third part specializing doing post mortems.

One such professional I spoke to, told me that most of the time they uncover things the rep was not even aware of. As you may expect, reps spent their time on the “product selection” elements, even before the prospect(s) were at that stage of their buying process. As a result, the rep was beat long before price and features were even on the table.

In essence, the rep brought nothing new to the discussion, and early in the buying process was relegated to being the “low end benchmark”. As soon as another vendor/rep took the discussion to a direction that had nothing to do with product, but instead, to place that everything to do with the buyers’ objectives, business realities, and impacts they were seeking, the PP rep (Price Product), became the designated low end comparable, which is why he/she was allowed to stick around, and also why you need someone else to do the post mortems.

While you can’t relitigate the deal, you do have to make sure that you get to the core issue(s). On the surface this may seem like it is about why the rep blew it, but it is really about understanding what needs to be different next time. And if the rep objects, you just remind them that in reality, they were a stranger in their own deal to begin with, so it may as well be so in the post mortem, especially if you really want to learn and change.

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Looking in

Where’s You Next $1,000,000 Deal Coming From?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

To do something right, you need to set time aside to understand things, to come up with a plan, and then finally doing it. All of these are elements of success, and they all require time to complete. This is why I want the sellers I work with to not think about time management, a really silly concept, but instead focus on time allocation.

To do that you must first know what are the key activities you have to do over the course of a sales cycle, prospecting, research, play-off pools, account management and more. This will vary from seller to seller and impacted by what they sell and to whom. Next you have to figure out and understand how much of your time needs to be allocated to each activity, but again only the activities you need to succeed, so I’m thinking maybe the play-off pool should come of the list. First thing you have to accept is that there is no right number, just your number. Some will have to allocate more to an activity than you, and for other key activities the opposite will be true. The only number that counts is yours, and the only thing that counts is how you improve it, because next year, your quota is going up, but you ain’t getting another second in the day to work with.

Once you have that together, you need to make sure that it makes its way into your calendar, and in the proportions you came to above. So if you had for example 20% of your time allocated to prospecting, (and were able to validate that with your metrics), then over the course of a four week sales cycle, assuming you work a 50 hour week, you will set aside, bank if you will, 40 hours over the four weeks for prospecting. If you don’t block that time in your calendar in advance, like you would with other important things, like say client meeting, pipeline reviews, and oh yes, play-off pools, it won’t get done.

Now some will tell me that they wanted to prospect, but couldn’t get around to it cause too many things came up. Things like what?

Seriously, what’s more important than ensuring you have enough fuel in the tank to take you to your destination? I don’t see a lot of sales guys heading out for Miami with only enough gas to get half way there, and no plans or means of acquiring more fuel before they run out.

The most common things is closing a sales or looking after customer issues. But if you had allocated the time for closing and the time for managing accounts, then why take from an equally important activity. I know closing is important, sexy and rewarding, but wasn’t that once a prospect?

Looking inTalk to wealthy people, and they all say, they put a specific amount away for retirement and other things that were important to them, before they would spend money on other less important things. So what’s important than filling your pipeline with your next opportunities, think of them as baby deals.

If you wanted to prospect, you would set time to do it, just like you do for closing calls, upsell calls, or vacation. These things are all in your calendar now, are the hours you will prospect next week? No!

“I’ll prospect as much as I can, depending what else I have to do”. Wrong, you should prospect as much as you committed to, based on your conversion rates and other metrics.

No, carve out and protect time to prospect, and then fit in all the other activities around it.

I ask reps, if you had a call set, where they were going to sign a $1,000,000 deal, what would I have to do to keep you from going? Yet when it comes to finding the next $1,000,000 deal, ah, that’s not that important.

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sillhouette of cheering fan in stadium

Participants vs. Observers0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Ask sales people why they lose deals and most will offer either price or some aspect of the product that led to their demise. I bet the over 40% B2B reps who fail to attain quota in a given year will also lean on the same crutch. While I understand the defence mechanism, you have to wonder when they will face the truth, and actually consider that it is the way they sell that leads to the results they get, nothing else.

Before I go on, it is important to mention that the sales person is not in this alone, the things I will speak to below are not just the fault of the individual seller. Their organizations and immediate manager are complicit in this, and not only enable, but often encourage, with the help of pundits, the behaviour that continues to plague sales, and leads to the results sellers see.

The problem is that most sellers (and their managers, and in many cases leaders in their respective organizations) are nothing more than observers, spectators if you will, rather than full time participants in the arena they are selling in. Being a spectator gives one a great vantage point, but not the same vantage point, or experience, as the actual on field players have. The best sellers, learn to observe and speak to things from the perspective of the player on the field, a real participant, not just the perspective of a super fan, which is how many sellers come across to buyers as. “Enthusiastic, informed, empathetic, but clearly hasn’t walked a mile in my shoes, and does not get the detail required to understand my view” is how one buyer put it.

Here’s a live example, I was working with a group of telco, IT wannabe sellers. At one point the question of why should or do people buy from you or your company?

sillhouette of cheering fan in stadium

Rep: We help them be more productive
Me: How?
Rep: We increase their people’s productivity.
Me: OK, give me an example, how do you make them more proactive?
Rep: We increase efficiencies
Me: How?
Rep: By increasing productivity
Me: OK, I’m with you, give me an example

You can hear the gears grinding, smoke ever so slowly seeping out of the ears, he wants to go to price but realizes the VP in the back of the room had him in the cross hairs.

In a last-ditch attempt to salvage the moment, he went for it:

Rep: We help them eliminate their pain points by offering the right solution.

Yup, that should cover it all, I didn’t have it in me to ask what pain, and what he was gonna solve with his solution.

Sure this may seem humours, till my role is played by an actual buyer, in the real world, who is actually a day to day participant in the “game”, not a “spots center” hack who may know the game, the players, and the rules, just hasn’t spend any time on the real field.

You can fake a lot of things in sales, but your buyer will know in a second if you are a real participant who can make a difference to them, or second rate color commentator who can’t contribute to the game.

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Businessman on rock mountain with idea bulb

3 Reason to Establish and Mine The Gap – Part II2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Monday, we looked and the need to establish a “Gap”, and gave an example that you can use to start the process with in your sales. Clearly you will need to build on that, and in today’s post we will offer specific steps you can take to surface and leverage Gaps in the process of helping buyers and winning deals.

As with most things worth doing, there is the investment part, and the pay-off part; please keep in mind that the pay-off will be after things have taken hold, not the next day. Make your plan, then execute the whole plan, not give up because you need to give things time to happen.

GAP PyramidCorpus of Knowledge

Step one is building a base of knowledge that allows you to step out as a Subject Matter Expert. You need to not only understand the objectives your market player may have and, should have. What makes you an expert is not all the information you have, but your ability to translate your knowledge into actionable insight; key here is actionable. The reality of “satisfied” prospects, is that they are by definition inert, not looking to move. Even when they have stated objectives, they have pre-conceptions about how to achieve them. To win you need to have them look at their objectives differently, look at objectives they may not have considered for different reasons, until an expert like you throws it into the mix.

Most sellers take in the prospect’s objectives at face value, and jump to trying to influence how the prospect might achieve those objectives. In other words, they focus on the “means” rather than the “end”; the problem with this, is that it is a crowded place to be, and if the “ends” have not changed, the “means” will be decided on in the feature/price filter.

Expert sellers, know they have to have the prospect re-evaluate their objectives, notice I did not say change, just re-evaluate, and if you are part of that re-evaluation, you can influence them, and marginalize the other sellers. How you ask, by focusing on the impacts you can deliver to their business. If they focus on the impacts, which are the ultimate “end”, an objective or a goal is a way to realize that impact. To do this you have to have the knowledge to understand why the buyer’s stated objectives may be, and a set of “Better” alternatives to get there.

Tribal Knowledge

To do that, you need to establish a discipline to review every opportunity that enters your pipeline, wins, losses, and “no decisions”. We use the 360 Degree Deal View, as it is uniquely designed to focus on objectives and impacts, and the Gaps that exist in the buyer’s current state, and the alternate state they are planning. Doing this gives you a level of understanding that will allow you to be the expert, be a conduit to best practices your prospects can learn and earn from.

Yes, this takes time, but not that much time, not as much time as it does chasing deals you won’t win.

Two key things you’ll learn will help you in Mining The Gap. First is the most common objectives and means of hitting those objectives currently favoured by market players, sellers and buyers. This will allow you to understand where there are Gaps or misalignment. For example, a VP may have a goal of 50/50 mix in revenues from product and services, but four months into the year it is tracking at 70% product, 30% services, where services fetches higher margin. You can surface this Gap with two simple questions, once the Gap is there, you can “Mine” it.

Second, you’ll discover where you have delivered unexpected impacts to objectives the buyer was not aware of or focused on before encountering you.

In all this it is important to look at the outs of 360’s right across your organization, look at other reps’ reviews, and expand your knowledge while expanding your value. Develop your Gap questions built on empirical data not third party wives’ tales or industry myths. There is a specific set of steps that when applied not only allow you to confirm and qualify Gaps, but Mine them, work them in a way that better engages your buyer, and separates you from also-rans. But it has to done right, or you may fall in to the Gap, sell like everyone else.

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